Under such circumstances, the service of the Potomac flotilla was probably among the most fatiguing and discouraging of the war. The crews of the vessels spent a great portion of their nights in rowing up and down the river on picket duty, watching for mail-carriers, smugglers, and spies of all kinds; and in the daytime the ships were often aground on the bars and shoals, in spite of all precaution. They were in hourly danger of being opened upon by masked batteries, which could be constructed unseen in the thick undergrowth of the shores; their quarters in the little steamers were exceedingly uncomfortable; their prizes were rowboats, and small, worthless river craft. . . . For their reward, these hard-working, much-enduring men received too often only the complaints of the country that nothing was done, and sneers at the inefficiency of the Navy department, and especially of the Potomac flotilla.As we look back upon these times, when North and South were on tiptoe with excitement, it was remarkable that the Government had not made, before the end of May, any really
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